Offer a Tangible Gift of Love: Commit to Knitting Socks for Soldiers
The goal of Socks for Soldiers Inc.: a pair of comfy, durable socks for every soldier. If you love to knit socks, this is your opportunity to make a difference
Are you eagerly seeking a charity to devote yourself to knitting for?
Something I often hear from frustrated charity knitters is, “I wish I knew if the people I’m knitting for really need and use what I send them.”
While I don’t believe this to be a widespread problem, I have heard a handful of horror stories of places that claimed they would take knitted donations, only to end up throwing them out.
So I have two questions for you.
One: Do you want to be completely certain that the organization you’re knitting for really and truly needs what you knit?
Two: do you love to knit socks? Or, conversely, are you excited by the challenge of knitting socks?
If you answered “yes” to these questions, I think you’ll want to learn about Socks for Soldiers Inc.
An Ongoing Issue and a Way You Can Help
In the world we live in today, it may seem like every time we turn around, we’re learning about another international conflict.
And no matter how you feel about any particular conflict, the young men and women sent to the battlegrounds offer us protection from the worst punishments of war.
This is why knitting for service members has been around for a very, very long time. Creating warm, comfortable clothing seems like the very least we civilians can do for the men and women fighting to keep us safe.
Does this appeal to you, too? Socks for Soldiers may well be the charity you need to get to know.
Socks for Soldiers, Inc.: Caring for Soldiers’ Feet and Offering Comfort to Their Hearts
This year, Socks for Soldiers will celebrate its 14th birthday. Since March 2006, owner and CEO Kim Opperman’s mission has been
To continue the historic tradition of sending hand knitted gifts to their men and women at war. A tangible treasure, and evidence they are not forgotten.
The military does the best it can to clothe its service members. Unfortunately, it has to clothe millions of people as inexpensively as it can. The acrylic and nylon socks modern service members receive wear out quickly and can cause blisters. They can also cause foot rot from acrylic’s inability to breathe.
As Kim puts it:
I think of our military and our citizenry as a sort of family. Uncle Sam provides all the necessities. Socks for Soldiers provides the love and caring. We infuse each stitch with love and prayers for the recipient of those pair of socks.
Yes, our All Season Superwash Wool Socks are definitely superior, and hand-knitted socks are structurally better fitting. But what we provide is something that speaks to the heart of every service number: love and prayers from home.
The other part of the heart of the Socks for Soldiers mission is continuing the time-honored tradition and history of knitting for service members. “It’s in our DNA,” she said.
In her drive to provide these special gifts for service members, Kim designed a regulation sock pattern. She also custom-created the military yarn used by the organization. She’s coined them “All Season Superwash Wool Socks.”
These socks will keep feet warm in the winter and cool in the summer, making them perfect for wearing all year round.
“Some doubtful service members have tested this promise,” Kim said, “and surprisingly, they agreed after field-testing in 120-degree temps for long periods under brutal conditions.”
Socks for Soldiers Inc.: A Team of Committed Knitters
One thing that you need to know if you’re interested in joining the Socks for Soldiers team is that it is, indeed, a team effort. It requires a dedicated commitment to the cause.
This is the sort of group that’s an excellent idea if you’re looking for one project to throw all your passion into.
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Be aware how much time and effort you have to give before you join. This doesn’t have to be the only group you knit for, but you know how much time and energy you have. Be sure you’re not overextending yourself!
“I set the bar minimally low,” Kim said, “so as to accommodate the average knitter who juggles work, family, and personal knitting. I challenge our knitters to look for small chunks of knitting time that’s otherwise not utilized.”
Don’t be afraid, though, if you’re not super-adept at sock knitting. Socks for Soldiers supplies mentors to help others with their sock skills.
And don’t be afraid about your socks not being up to par, either! They also have a Repair Committee to fix any mistakes. This helps to minimize loss and waste in the organization.
In order to join the Socks for Soldiers mission, you’ll need to join its Facebook group. (Note: you may need to be logged into your Facebook account to see the group page. If you click the link and it takes you to a Facebook login page, log in, return to this page, click the link, and you should be taken to the page.)
If you enjoy Ravelry you can join that group as well, but you can find the patterns and order the yarn Kim custom-designed for the group only at the Facebook group.
Although Socks for Soldiers knits for and sends care packages to all branches of the armed forces, 75% of deployed military personnel are male. And 100% of infantry divisions are male. “We provide for all in quantities and sizes needed,” Kim explains.
Socks for Soldiers Guidelines
New members are to use the official Socks for Soldiers regulation sock pattern to create one pair of probationary leisure socks. This allows new members to familiarize themselves with the pattern and become comfortable with it.
For these “probationary” socks, you’ll use any accepted sock yarn. Kim recommends as your first choice using Regia or Opal sock yarns.
Once your “probationary” socks are accepted, you can then knit regulation socks.
Socks for Soldiers, Inc. sells the custom-made specialized yarn required to knit regulation socks at wholesale prices especially for this cause. Information about ordering this yarn is available in the Facebook group page.
Because regulation socks are needed most, members are asked to concentrate on them. You can knit leisure socks (with the approved yarn suggestions provided) every other pair.
This is so that, as Kim puts it, “when the eyes become weary from looking at colors of the desert, you can knit bright colorful socks of your own design and method.”
Also accepted by Socks for Soldiers (as a lower priority), adds Kim, “are hand-knitted facecloths, packaged with a bar of hand-crafted gourmet soap.”
The group has 3 primary rules: 1) Knit for 20 minutes each day. 2) Offer a weekly progress report. 3) Send completed socks to the Socks for Soldiers headquarters.
While it is a commitment, Kim stresses that there is no “numbers” pressure. As long as you’re knitting for 20 minutes a day, it doesn’t matter whether you’re a fast knitter or a slow one. All that matters is that you do your best.
This truly is a fun group, with a delightful sense of camaraderie and joy. Kim is always eager to praise every accomplishment, and she also loves to give out prizes.
Finally, if you or any non-knitting friends would like to make financial contributions to this cause, you can do so at the Socks for Soldiers, Inc. website. They can also always use folks to help collect supplies, cards, and letters, as well as organizational tasks.
You can write to Kim at [email protected] with any questions.
If helping U.S. soldiers is a cause you care tremendously about – and you want to join with a great group of like-minded folks – Socks for Soldiers is the group for you!